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Everything posted by AJ

  1. I also found myself practising too much with the tuner turned on, but I had no other reference except when I went to a lesson and had a teacher to play along with. I decided it was a bad idea to play constantly with the tuner on (mine is the type that gives a green light when in tune) so I started turning it off after initial tuning. I noticed my playing started speeding up, and my intonation actually improved as my ears were better than I thought. Now I only turn the tuner on when playing a tune in a key I'm not used to. With the fiddling someone was kind enough to record a lot of the tunes I am learning so I now play along with the CD instead of the tuner. If I don't have a recording of the music I have a piece of music writing software instead, and I will input a tune and then play along with the midi version. My intonation is so much better doing it this way.
  2. The shoulder rest I ended up with is made by Kun (the super rest). I had tried a different Kun when I first started playing, but it was a pretty basic model. This one is quite adjustable. Do take the suggestion of looking in the mirror while you play and see if any posture problems jump out at you.
  3. You should not be suffering pain from playing. This is an indication that you are either playing with too much tension, or you need to find the right set up. I have gone through several shoulder/chin rests since starting. Initially I was only using a sponge for a shoulder rest, but was geting neck and shoulder pain like you are. I started using an adjustable shoulder rest, which led to changing the chin rest, which led to changing the shoulder rest. Recently I took my violin in to a local shop, took off the chinrest and shoulder rest and held the violin up in the playing position I wanted it. We worked from there to find the combination that worked best. My neck and back pain have pretty much disappeared. Nobody on this board can say exactly which chin rest or shoulder rest you need as there are too many variables with each person. I have a long neck and use a chinrest that sits over the tailpiece, and a shoulder rest that I have adjusted quite high on the right side, and low in the left, but this might not work for you. Do as I did and find a good shop with knowledgeable staff that play to help you. They may even allow you to borrow the rests to try for a week.
  4. Quote: I am surprised that everyone is discussing the angle that the bow is going on, how it should be going, and what the arm is doing, without looking at the original situation. As I understand it, the bow of Countryboy's daughter is doing something new which seems disturbing after she made a particular change in how her hand relates to the bow. How her hand relates to the bow is going to be directly affected by the position of her arm. I, and I'm sure many others, have found that when I try to relax while playing the first thing that happens is that I drop my elbow too low, there-by causing the bow to travel at the wrong angle. The exersise using the straws in the F holes is a great one because it forces you to keep your elbow up in order to get the bow to run straight.
  5. The angled bow problem is pretty common, and I still do it sometimes when I'm concentrating on other things. One sure way to fix is is by getting a couple of drinking straws and folding them up and stuffing them in the top of the F holes so they stand straight up and and directly opposite each other. This will make the violin sound terrible, but by practising her bowing with these as guides for about five or ten minutes she will get a good feel of where she needs to position her arm to keep the bow straight. It's good to start out a practise session with this for a week or two. I'm guessing that she is probably just pulling her elbow in too close to her body. Another problem in fiddling is that there is a lot of quick passages that require wrist circles and not whole arm movement. If she is having difficulty keeping the bow in place on fast passages then she probably needs to concentrate on moving just the wrist. I was shown an exersise for this that might be a little difficult, but worth a try. Have her kneel, or sit, beside a chair so that she can rest her bowing arm on the back just above the elbow making sure her arm is perpendicular (not too high or low). Then practise some of those passages that require the wrist circles and she will find that she will be forced to use just her wrist, and the bow won't be able to wander.
  6. Started approximately five years ago at age 38. Mucked around with Suzuki for about a year and a half, and now play mostly Irish jigs and reels.
  7. I wish I could find someone who could really help me figure out this puzzle. When I recently aquired my new fiddle I took it in to a shop and tried out some new chinrests. At the time I had been using a Wolf should rest which was quite high because I have a fairly long neck. I was using a chinrest that sat over the tailpiece. I tried a new chinrest that felt so comfortable at the time, even though it sat to the left of the tailpiece, that I immediately ditched the old chinrest. Problem was that I soon realized that the shoulder rest was now too high. Back to the music store, where I tried several shoulder rests and settled on a Kun. I've been playing with this set-up for a while, and the longer I play, the less I like it. The violin sits at too much of an angle now, and the shoulder rest always feels like it's about to fall off. I now feel like I should have stuck with the chinrest that sits over the tailpiece, so I'm going to head back to the music store next week and see if someone can help me figure it out. Any suggestions?
  8. Fiddler Ashley MacIsaac is left handed, and I think he actually plays a regularly set up fiddle, backwards. But I guess to make it right you would need a fiddle built for a lefty, sound post and bass bar on the other side......
  9. My fiddle has ended up with the name Peggy, after my aunt who passed away from cancer in October. She had left me all of her musical instruments in her will, but had sold the violin she had to a repairman who had expressed an interest in it a few years ago. Peggy and I talked often before she died, and she knew I was looking for a better fiddle and one day said to me that she felt she owed me one because she had sold the one she had. I had looked for around for a couple of years for a decent fiddle I could afford, but didn't find the one I now play until two weeks after my aunt died. It had been sitting in a pawn shop for about a month, and was priced at only half its value because the pawn shop owner knew he wouldn't sell it for what it's worth in that part of town.
  10. There are so many good makers of guitars that it will come down to what sound he prefers. Personally, I have a student level classical from a Canadian maker, Simon and Patrick, out of Quebec. Beautiful sound, only cost $350Cdn. They are sold in the US, but I couldn't say where, try looking for their web site. Sometimes you get more bang for your buck by sticking with a North American maker.
  11. The experts over on the pegboard will also tell you that the label alone doesn't mean much, they need photos.
  12. Well, when I first started violin lessons about 4 years ago my teacher also told me I would probably be able to play in a local orchestra in about a year or so, but I think that's because I had played several other instruments prior to the violin, and had a good understanding of a lot of the musical concepts as opposed to someone who was a beginner in every way. I advanced rapidly to Suzuki book 4 level. Due to things that happened in my life I had to quit lessons after a year and a half, then didn't play for some time due to an injury, and have just gotten back into it in this past year, but I have turned to Irish fiddle music instead of classical so I don't think I'll be doing the orchestra thing. As far as vibratto goes, I agree that you shouldn't rush it as it will throw off your intonation, which at this point you still haven't mastered, but I would recommend you find a book titled Viva Vibratto and try some of the exersises that don't involve using the bow. If you spend just a few minutes a day on these exersises you will find that your vibratto will come a whole lot easier when you do finally start to work on it. Good luck, and keep sluggin' along with the rest of us beginners!
  13. I would have to agree with this. Why buy from a shop when you can find good old ones or used ones for much less. After all, you buy a violin for the sound, not the name. I had been keeping my eyes open for a new fiddle for a couple of years, and I had tried several of the better known makers and models from several stores. Gliga, Strunal, Sandner and some Chinese-made ones as well, all priced around $1500. They all sounded quite nice, but still seemed to lack something. I tried a couple of old-timers that were advertised for a fraction of the price in the local paper, but in the end I stumbled across a 100 year old German trade fiddle in a pawn shop. No label, hardly a scratch on it, beautiful tone. Paid $700 for it. Everybody loves its sound....even when I'm playing it I think the key is to not rush the purchase, and try lots of instruments, even ones you aren't interested in buying, so you have a good idea of what kind of sound you want.
  14. Well, someone further down answered it quite well by saying that an instrument is a personal choice. She may be disappointed by a digital piano, but you won't know until you try. Find a store with a good return policy and if she feels she doesn't like it after a couple of weeks, return it. Or maybe even rent her one for six months.There are issues with a 'real' piano that you won't encounter with a digital. Moving and tuning a real piano is much more difficult, and costly. As real pianos age the pegs can loosen and the soundboard can crack. These are things that can't really be fixed. There are lots of moving parts in a real piano that are subject to weather changes, and can be costly to repair. Have you ever looked 'under the hood' of a real piano? Today's digital pianos come with properly weighted and sized keys that makes them feel like the real thing, and they can be tuned with a dial at the back. I have a Roland EP9, it's not a top end piano, but it has all 88 keys and I can take the stand apart and store the piano in the closet when I need it out of the way. Since I'm not a great piano player it's good enough for me with the added bonus of being able to plug it into my computer and record what I'm playing. I would still rather have a real one, though.
  15. I'm also looking for a new violin case, but have different issue. The old German fiddle I bought seems to be a little bigger than most new violins, and won't fit in most new cases I've tried it in. The body of it is 14 1/4 inches. The cheap old case it's currently in doesn't have space for a shoulder rest, and the plastic things that hold the bows in have been snagging bow hairs! So, where do I find a case to fit this old-timer? Will have have to buy used?
  16. Looks more like some type of snail to me!
  17. Very suspicious! But, when in a pawn shop I think it's only wise to be suspicious, especially when the guy couldn't remember where he got the fiddle to start with. I had reached the point where I had looked at several old violins, and found that people were often misrepresenting them. One is still listed in a local paper, the guy wants $1000 for it, and tells a tale of how some great uncle played it, but it's obviously a cheap factory model from around the second world war. It's good to know that there are some honest violin sellers out there, even in the pawn shops!
  18. He is, and I took the fiddle in to him today to get new strings and chin rest. It seems I lucked out and it actually is a 100 year old German trade fiddle. Sounds like I only paid about 50% what it's worth, too, so I'm quite happy about that. With the new strings on it it sounds even better, and I'm sure I'll practise a lot more, now!
  19. After searching around for a better fiddle I finally decided to buy one I came across in a pawn shop because I liked it and the price was right. The place I bought it from has been in business since the 30s and actually has a good reputation. The violin I bought came in a beat up case with a bow to match, but the violin itself is in near perfect condition. The guy told me he had taken it to a well-known local luthier who told him he might be able to get $1200 for it, but he let me have it for under $700, which I felt was reasonable even if it didn't turn out to be what he claimed. He claimed the luthier told him it is a German trade fiddle from the turn of the century. It has a nice tone, but after getting it home and looking at it in better light I can't help but think that it is in too good of condition to be that old. There is some varnish under the bridge that has been scraped off, but it looks like recent damage, and other than that there is no wear on the violin. Even the fingerboard looks untouched. There is dust build-up on the inside that wouldn't be in a new violin, though, but I have a funny feeling this is a newer violin that's been made to look old. Are there any signs I could look for that might tell me for sure if it's new or old? There is no label in the violin, and I guess it doesn't really matter other than I want to know if the guy lied to me. I'm going to take some photos, but won't have those available for a few days.
  20. Try this site for all kinds of information on digita cameras: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/compare.asp
  21. I am also trying to find someone who specializes in injured musicians. In the mean time I have been going for massage therapy, and it seems to help a lot more than just a regular physiotherapist. I tease the guy who has been treating me that he must have been a torturer in a past life because he has a talent for finding spots I didn't know hurt when I came in. It really helps with the tense muscles, though, forces them to relax.
  22. Again, thanks for the suggestions, I will have to pay more attention to overall arm movement to figure out what I'm doing wrong. As for the bow, well I bought it about 4 years ago, or so, and it was a cheap $40 one, so it might be due for replacement anyway. When I was in a music store recently, trying out violins, I commented to the sales person that I really liked the bow he had given me, he smiled and said 'sorry' and showed me the price tag...$600. I definitely noticed the difference!
  23. Thanks for all the hints, people, I've tried a couple of things and the bounce goes away until I try to play into the string a little then it comes back again. Can anyone suggest some exersises I could work on? Is there a book for bowing exersises?
  24. After my fiddle teacher pointed it out to me, I've been trying to keep the bow from bouncing so much as I play. Am I just putting too much pressure on the bow, maybe I've tightened it too much, or is it that it was a cheap bow to start with and I've been using it for over three years? Or is it a combination of all these things because try as I might I can't seem to keep it from bouncing, and I don't recall having this problem the last time I took lessons?
  25. I think you're right, it's too much to pay for a no-name fiddle with so many repairs. As far as the pawn shop one goes,it's whether or not it's stolen that has me concerned. The fact that it's not very old, and has hardly been played makes me suspicious. Beginning players don't buy a fiddle of that quality. I'm still thinking about it though, and I might just go back and offer him $700 and see what happens.No hurry, it's in a part of town most people wouldn't go to look for a violin and he's already had it for half a year.
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